Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Labour cuts off funding to Tynedale's voluntary groups

I am afraid I write this blog post in both anger and sadness. The new Labour run County Council has paid much lip service to fairness - but one of their first acts has shown a real disregard for our community.

Northumberland County Council has issued a last minute suspension of the West Area Community Chest fund which sees over £100,000 granted to community groups across Tynedale each year.

The Community Chest is divided into three equal parts, one for the North of the County, one for the West and one for the South East, each with £100,000 to support voluntary and community groups in that area.

The County Council has now suspended the fund and said it will be reviewing the West's allocation. It has indicated it would not be seeking to reduce the overall monies in the County Fund - but instead cut the West's allocation in favour of the South East.

Justifying the move the County Council said  "50% of the County's residents live in the bottom South East corner but only get 1/3 of the fund" and claimed this represented an "imbalance in funding."

The current funding arrangement is part of a long standing cross party agreement which has saw the fund divided equally across all areas of the County.

What Labour seem to be proposing is absolutely scandalous move. It is shameful that they are looking to cut community funding in the West to shift extra funds to the South East, an area which already receives extra funding as it is. Places like Prudhoe, Hexham and Hlatwhistle are really going to lose out if they get their way.

The decision has came as shock to the voluntary sector with 21 applications, totalling some £54,000 already waiting to be processed by the fund. Those applications are now stuck in limbo.

I will be writing to the Leader of the Council Grant Davey to express my disgust at this arbitrary move. Voluntary groups and the wonderful work they do should not be used as some political tool to prop up labour voting areas in the South East. 

This funding was agreed in the pre election budget and never once did Labour hint to the residents of Tynedale they were looking to cut our funding prior to the elections. It is underhand and quite frankly an abuse of residents trust. 

I will fight this one all the way.